Neurons are specialized nerve cells that receive, process and convey information to other neurons and bodily cells. These information messengers use electrical impulses and chemical signals to transmit, boost and balance information between different areas of the brain, as well as between the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Nerve cells produce enzymes that synthesize most neurotransmitters, signaling chemicals that affect a wide variety of physical and psychological functions. Without the work of neurons and their support cells, the human body could not thrive in homeostasis. In fact, our brains rely on the smooth, fast and efficient release of neurotransmitters to regulate heart rate, sleep, appetite, and mood, as well as enable breathing, learning, reasoning, memorizing, concentration and movement.
Generally neurons do not touch one another and instead communicate by releasing neurotransmitters across a tiny gap, or synapse, transmitting signals that either stimulate (excite) or inhibit (calm) the receiving cells. A neuron can simultaneously receive many impulses, both excitatory and inhibitory from other neurons. Known as summation, a receiving neuron compiles or consolidates multiple signals, firing and calling other neurons into action when more excitatory signals are received. If the sum of the signals is inhibitory, the neuron does not fire and does not influence the activity of other neurons.
Malfunction of these processes has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s; gastrointestinal disorders, including diverticulitis, irritable bowel, Crohn’s and celiac disease; and disorders such as anxiety, depression, epilepsy and autism. Some of the more well known neurotransmitters are:
GABA: The brain’s main inhibitory chemical messenger, GABA contributes to vision and motor control and plays a major role in reducing neuron excitability and anxiety regulation, as well as relaxation and calmness.
Glutamate: The most plentiful excitatory neurotransmitter found in the nervous system, glutamate plays a role cognition, memory and learning and helps to balance the effects of GABA.
Glycine: The main inhibitory neurotransmitter of the spinal cord, glycine is vital for maintaining healthy central nervous and digestive system functions, as well as the synthesis of nucleic acids. It may also inhibit neurotransmitters linked to seizures and hyperactivity.
Endorphins: Produced naturally by the body, endorphins inhibit the transmission of pain signals and promote pleasurable feelings. Endorphin production can be triggered by physical activities, such as aerobic exercise.
Epinephrine: Better known as adrenaline, epinephrine functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain and as a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands.
Norepinephrine: This neurotransmitter plays a major role in the body’s fight or flight response, boosting alertness and mobilizing the body and brain to act during times of stress, fear or danger.
Histamine: Produced as part of the immune system’s response to pathogens, histamine plays a role in allergic reactions and the inflammatory response.
Dopamine: Dopamine is involved in reward and motivation and plays an important role in body movement coordination.
Serotonin: Serotonin helps to regulate and modulate mood, sleep, anxiety, sexuality and appetite, and helps to balance excessive excitatory neurotransmitter effects in the brain.
Adenosine: This brain neuromodulator is involved in cellular energy transfer, signal transduction and the synthesis of RNA. As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, adenosine can act as a central nervous system depressant, promoting sleep and suppressing arousal.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP): Present in all living tissue, ATP provides energy for physiological processes, including muscle contraction, chemical synthesis and nerve impulse transmission.
Nitric oxide: Nitric oxide relaxes smooth muscles, allowing for blood vessel dilation and increased blood flow.
Carbon monoxide: Generally known for its toxic effects when exposed to high levels, carbon monoxide produced naturally by the body acts to modulate the body’s inflammatory response.
Acetylcholine: Found in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter associated with motor neurons and muscle movements. It plays a role in memory, learning and sleep as well.
Professional Supplement Center offers many high quality formulations in support of overall health and function:
GABA 750 mg by Integrative Therapeutics®: One capsule provides 750 mg of GABA in support of healthy brain cell function and neurochemical balance. Free of sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation.
Calm G by NeuroScience™: Calm G provides a blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, CoQ10 and other nutrients important for the regulation of glutamate activity, stress reduction, metabolic health and mitochondrial function.
Glycine 500 mg by Douglas Laboratories®: This amino acid formula supports glutathione and nucleic acid synthesis, as well as bile production. Glycine may also support neurological, gastrointestinal and connective tissue health. Free of yeast, wheat, gluten, soy protein, dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch and artificial coloring, preservatives and flavoring.
Seratonin™ by Allergy Research Group: This patented formula is designed to support neurotransmitters involved in healthy mood, sound sleep and a balanced stress response.
DopaPlus by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula provides neurotransmitter precursors to boost, balance and promote dopamine production in support of enhanced daily mental function, emotional wellness and positive mood. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
D-Ribose with Peak ATP® by Progressive Laboratories®: D-ribose is a critically important sugar molecule and essential component of ATP, the source of cellular energy. Peak ATP®, developed through a proprietary fermentation process, delivers the exact molecule the body needs to create energy.
Nitric Oxide Ultra Stick Packs by Pure Encapsulations®: This great tasting powdered formula combines clinically researched ingredients for enhanced nitric oxide production, healthy blood flow and vascular health. Hypoallergenic, gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
Neurotransmitters: How Brain Cells Use Chemicals to Communicate. https://www.brainfacts.org/archives/2011/neurotransmitters-how-brain-cells-use-chemicals-to-communicate
Neurotransmitters: The critical modulators regulating gut-brain axis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772764/
Identifying a Neurotransmitter. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-neurotransmitter-2795394
Neurotransmitter and receptors. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/human-biology/neuron-nervous-system/a/neurotransmitters-their-receptors